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THE PROTECTING WING Of THE AEROPLANE
Striking Fads from the Views of Brigadier
*—*Generat Alien Concerning the Need for Cruisers of%
the Air for Defensive Purposes
EVERY acre of territory 15.the United States
made vulnerable by the advent of aerial nav
igation can be protected with the expenditure
of only $430,000—0ne twenty-eighth of the cost
of a modern battleship. Yet the government has fal
len far behind European nations which are building
up formidable aerial fleets.
. Mindful of the need of prompt action to bring the
United States abreast of foreign powers in the. latest
development of military equipment, officers at Wash
ington arc directing their energies toward the creation
of an aeroplane force. Brigadier General James Allen,
chief signal officer of the army, has made specific rec
ommendations for the establishment of a nucleus, at
least, and his plea has the support of Major General
Wood, chief of staff, and of the board of ordnance
"Every one knows now that an aeroplane dropping
explosives on a battleship won't do much damage,
but give me a thousand of them— there will be
fleets thousands in numbers before long—and I will
not, only have plenty of lines of communication, but
I'll do a whole lot of damage with them."
So says Brigadier General Allen in urging that con
gress authorize the purchase of 10 aeroplanes and the
establishment of 10 annual camps of instruction in
aerial offense and defense.
In effect Brigadier General Allen sees the day not
far distant when the United States will rest secure
under the protecting wing of the aeroplane, with every
acre of the land guarded by the modern marvel—the
whirring bird of the new age—and all lat so low a
I cost that it almost staggers the imagination.
UNITED STATES FAR BEHIND
There are now only one lieutenant and nine enlisted
men on duty in the signal corps in connection with
aeronautics. There is only one officer of the army
who is a licensed pilot. This is due to the small num
ber of officers and men in the signal corps.
The licensed pilot is First Lieutenant Frank P.
Lahm, who was on detail to the signal corps from the
Seventh cavalry. He was recently sent back to his
regiment and is now at Fort Riley, Kansas. His
work as a navigator is known the world over.
First lieutenant Benjamin D. Foulois is the only
officer detailt/1 to aviation duty in the corps. He is
now at the headquarters of the department of Texas
at San Antonio; where the army aeroplane bought
from the Wright brothers is situated. Even with a
large number of available officers to take up aero- I
nautics their assignment to this line would be useless,
it is pointed out, owing to the lack of equipment.
Despite these handicaps Brigadier General Allen is
keeping abreast of the times in theoretical knowledge.
50 that should congress grant an increase to the
signal corps as well as an appropriation for the pur
chase of aeroplanes his department will be in a posi
tion at once to proceed with the instruction of the
necessary number of officers and men.
Here are some* cold figures that have been adduced:
With one aeroplane carrying 400 pounds, five aero
planes could carry one ton.
Ten aeroplanes could transport 20,000 rounds of
ammunition and 1,000 haversack rations, a burden of
two tons, to 10,000 men situated 40 miles from the
case of supplies within one hour.
One hundred aeroplanes—all beyond the range of
fire— drop 20 tons of explosive upon arsenal,
fort or shipyard, fly to their base 20 or more miles
away and return in an hour with 20 tons more. Thus,
between midday and 4 o'clock of an afternoon there
could be dropped in one spot 100 tons of explosive.
What, then, army officers ask, would be the terrific
destructive power of a fleet of 1,000 aeroplanes con
centrated upon a fort or a fleet of battleships.
While aeroplanes are now selling for about $5,000
each in the United States, officers add. the price is
falling and it will not be long before the price here
will be cut in half; therefore a fleet of 1,000 aeroplanes
would cost but $2,500,000, or a little more than one-
Sfth fj^the cost of a modern battleship.
"la the war department of every leading power are
plans and data covering all points of attack arid de
fense in every nation in the world, including its own.
Among those in the war department of the- United
States is one map made many months ago. At the
first glance it appears to be without rhyme or reason.
At fa casual glance it consists of a map of the United
States covered with circles. In the east, especially
. along the Atlantic coast, and along the coast line of
. the gulf of Mexico and the Pacific ocean the circles
ire more thickly located, overlapping each other until
they form a raaze. This is especially so in the vicinity
of Boston, nW York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and
SERIAL MILITARY MAP EB
In the accompanying map are. 43 circles. The cost
•A each station, according to the latest estimates of
; the signal corps, would be $3,000 for the latest model
of an aeroplane, $1,000 for machine shops, Hangars,
barracks for men. etc.; $750 a year tor a mechanic'
md $3,250 to cover possible losses from accidents and '
replace flying machines at some stations where com
pletely destroyed. The total for each station is esti
mated at $10,000. For.the 43 stations here given the
grand total would be $430,000 to establish and main
tain ior one year. Thereafter the amount for main
tenance would be comparatively small. To add an
I:tra aeroplane at each station would bring the grand
I'tal to $750,000.
(in order to prevent the amount of these figures from
' bring regarded as fantastic flights of imagination it is
-pointed out at the war department that the latest "
type: Of^ battleship costs $12,000,000 and -that the cost
o. the 43 stations, with two aeroplanes at each, would
only be a sixteenth of this sum.
"At alow estimate," he says in his report, "it is
believed that at least 20 aeroplanes should be in the
.service of the United States on regular practice at
different points of the country throughout the year
and present at the camps of instruction for regular
troops and organized militia. This estimate is consid
ered extremely low and would provide but. two aero-
planes for each camp of instruction! To operate this
number of aeroplanes would require at least 20 spe
j ially trained officers as pilots. In addition to this,
| each machine must carry at least one observer, which
'i experience. has shown, will require much training and
U actual practice before the usefulness of the aeroplane
'*.is attained. The new field service regulations, 1910,
provide for aeronautical companies of the signal corps
fully equipped with suitable aeronautical devices for
service with the mobile forces. At present not even a
model of such a company couldpossibly be organized,
■ nor will it be possible to ;do so »m;il the signal corps
. is increased by suitable legislation.
', Recently France placed an «rdcr,fur»3o aeroplanes,
BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES
Chief of Signal Service, US.A.
in addition to the large fleet of seven dirigibles and
29 aeroplanes she already possesses. Germany is
keeping pace with tier in this respect, adding to her
fleet of 14 dirigibles and five aeroplanes. Great Bri
tain also is awakening. The United States, whose
army was the pioneer in the military use of the aero
plane, is woftllly behind. She has only one biplane,
one small dirigible and three spherical balloons. The
signal corps has only one lieutenant and nine enlisted
men on duty in connection with aeronautics.
"It may be said without hesitation." says Brigadier
General Allen, "that the principal military subject at
present engrossing the attention of congresses and
parliaments of European first class powers is the pos
sible influence of aerial navigation upon the military
art. In the last year aeronr.utics, so far as our army is
concerned, has been practically at a standstill. In the
meantime European powers are displaying marked
activity in the development and supply of both the
dirigible and the aeroplane for war purposes.
"It is frequently -aid that the United States, due to
its isolated position, is not likely to become involved
in war. and therefore the most economical procedure
in aerial navigation is to wait until other nations have.
determined upon the types best suited to military pur
poses, thus shifting the expense of experiment and
development to other nations. In reply to this it must
be remembered that in 1897- no one believed that the
United States had any prospect of a war; yet within
one year from that date we were actually involved in
a war with Spain without any adequate military prep
aration for a war, which resulted in great confusion,
expense and unnecessary loss of life. Furthermore,
experienced military airmen can not be created after
war is declared, and the demands of this new service
will undoubtedly require higher qualities of training,
judgment and courage than any other branch of the
•'Military authorities agree that the only way to
meet aerial attack is by similar weapons," and that
there is no chance of adequate protection being given
locally. The advent of aerial navigation has, in fact,
extended the vulnerable area of a country to every
acre of its territory."
The men who lay out the offensive and defensive
plans of the United States war department took all
these things into consideration. Thus it was that
when, three years ago, the United States took the
hrst step in military aeronautics they made a map
which adequately gave defense to the seaports on all
coasts, to the frontiers and at army posts in the in
terior. The latter under the new conditions in time
of war become as important as the seaports and as
liable to attack.
These men also took into consideration the inade
quate size of the signal corps for aeronautical work,
Map O i the United States Sho ving Aerial Defence Divisions '
let alone for its ordinary duties, and as a result legis
\ lation for increasing the efficiency of the corps was
introduced in the second session of the sixtieth con
gress. The proposed legislation was approved by the
secretary of war. the lieutenant general of the army,
the chief of staff and the commandant of the army
service schools. In the next session the house com
mittee on military affairs approved the legislation,
but congress has failed to pass it.
It is now before congress and a fervent hope is
expressed by officials of the war department tljat it
will be favorably acted upon at the coming session.
There is much speculation as to what the coming
democratic house will do to army and navy appropria
tion bills. Some say it will slash these budgets, while
even more reliable observers of congressional affairs
say it will be as patriotic in its desires to see the
various military arms of the nation kept to their high
est efficiency as was the republican house.
The majority of members of congress and army and
navy officers who were skeptical as to the future of
military aeronautics, have been converted. It is ex
pected that the members of congress will speak
strongly in favor of the subject on the floor of the
hou>e and senate.
It will be pointed out that speed has increased SO
per cent during the last year, until more than 66 mile?
an hour was officially reported at the Rheims meet in
France during last summer. The distance flown with
out stop is 244 miles in 5 hoars *ji<l 3 minutes. The
total distance in a single week by a single aeroplane
is 1,622 miles. In France aeroplanes have flown from
Paris to the German frontier and return on a schedule,
i regardless of weather and under conditions more
severe than ever before. The distance traveled was
nearly 500 miles. The Alps have been crossed in 40
minutes. A flight has been made from Albany to
New York city and from Paris to London. An aero
plane has carried a pilot and four passengers. In
motors the horsepower has increased from 25 and 30
a year ago to 50 and 100. The marvelous progress of
the automobile toward perfection in recent years, it
is asserted here, will be equaled by that of the aero
plane. Two members of the cabinet. Secretaries Dick
inson and Hitchcock, have flown in aeroplanes.
Brigadier General Allen has received most import
ant support in his plea to congress in the shape of the
annual reports of Major General Leonard Wood and
of the board of ordnance and fortification.
"In view of the very rapid advance made in aero
nautics in the last few years." Major General Wood
Says, "and the imperative necessity for aeroplanes and
dirigibles in war, i; j, important that adequate appro
priations should be made available in order that the
The'San Francisco E___f li-a-l-
The San Framisco Sund
signal corps may be provided with a reasonable num- 1
her of the better type of machines for instruction pur- f,
poses and field work. The signal corps is, as bow
organized, insufficient to properly perform its present *
duties, and as the development of aeronautics will un- t
doubtedly throw added work on this corps attention; £
is invited to the necessity for its increase."
The fortification board in its report took occasion,; \
having in mind the early Langley experiments, to ■'
point out that the board had faith in aeronautics when |
the science was a subject of indifference and contempt.
After reviewing the results of experiments made pos- '
sible by the board, the report says:
"While further improvements in the mechanical
features of aeroplanes are certainly to be looked , for
and will continue to receive the careful consideration"
of the board it is the opinion of; the board that \ the
art of aviation is now developed sufficiently to war-"
rant the purchase by the war department of a number
of aeroplanes of existing types for the training of cer
tain selected officers in the art of flying, from whose'
experience valuable information may be expected,
both in the development of suitable types of military
aeroplanes and in the determination of the proper
role of such machines in military operations"
MEYER SEEKS APPROPRIATION
Twenty-rive thousand dollars has been asked of.
congress by Secretary of the Navy Meyer, in his
annual report, for• carrying on scouting : experiments
with aeroplanes. Afjer reviewing the experiment «of *'
hugene Ely in flying in a Curtiss biplane! from the
deck of the scout cruiser Birmingham at Hampton
roads November 14, the report says:
"This experiment demonstrated the conditions gov
erning the location of! future platforms on shipboard
for this purpose and showed that they could be in
stalled without interfering seriously with the other
features of the ship.
"Landing on or near a ship on returning with in
formation after a scouting trip appears to be prac
ticable. • '■"* *
■ "The department contemplates further experiments
along these lines, with the belief that it will bo neces
sary in; the near future to equip all scouts with one or ?
more, aeroplanes to increase the distance at which
information ca" be' secured. ~' ':■■•■'.
:- "For the purpose of carrying on such "experiments
the department recommends that; $25,000 be author
Mr. Dickinson, secretary of war, has Out cf *ay onx;
the* subject in; his annual report: Z^^"'
"Germany and France continue to lead in the A*
velopment of air craft for military purposes £ T
L nai, ly hi? penalized in the development of the Hiri
biglc balloon, while France has paid morr attention:
fr™ ,KrCV^ °-Pm- Cnt °f uthe acr,°P la"<-- Information
from:abroad indicates that at tlie present time (,er
many possesses ,14 military dirigible ; . airship* and a
number of aeroplanes; trance seven military dirigible
airships and 30 aeroplanes.. Reliable information from I
prance, under date ot September 6, 1910, states as
follows: /.:.!:., ,
\ "-The :French aerial fleet .will shortly be increased
by^o units.. The minister of war has, in fact, given an
order for 10 Blcnot monoplanes and 20 Farman bi
planes, seven of which can carry, two passengers in'
addition ;to the pilot. The Bleriot apparatus will be"
delivered within a month, and our officers will be in.
possession ;of the Farmans in three months at the
latest. It will therefore be 60 aeroplanes that France
will be able to place in line before the end of the
"Late information received from ; France also mdi- <
cates that the French government has recently or
dered 11 new dirigibles of different dimensions, whose
delivery will take place at different times within the
next 12 months. * • V
"The: United States. which was the first nation of- * "
ficially to recognize the aeroplane for military pur
poses and which con* at Fort Mycr, in 1908, the
first i public flight of a heavier than air machine, ha.« '
since that date m*' no ' addition to its aeronautical' r
equipment, whiV at present consists' of one small *
practice; dirigiV'' bal, Joo, n > one Wright aeroplane and
three small c*? tnt balloons nor to its trained per
sonnel, the -"S'? aI co, r.P s at present having but one '
lieutenant a"d nme enlisted men on duty in connection:" 1
with aero" autl.-r There is but one officer "who •is ai;
licensed P'Jot tor "ree balloons. .
"It contended by some that dirigible balloons and
airship w". lat: best prove to be of doubtful utility in
war f^re. Others hold : that the United States would
hette postpone , expenditures until the art has reached '
a ,nore advanced The fact remains that all J
European • first > class powers are devoting a great deal / (
.f attention to the subject of military: aeronautics andSVi
re displaying marked activity in the development and V \
upnlv of ; both the dirigible and the aeroplane for war ) '
urposes, while the United States is practically sat a' I 1
tandstill in this matter. "In my judgment the time A
as come when it would be wise to make! appropria- " v *
ons adequate :for providing the signal corps with a? i
easonable;nurnber of the better type of machines for ; ri
\struction; purposes and for field work."